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Thread: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

  1. #1
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    Default Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    I have been given my Grandmother's Ceccherini mandolin - she played in a mandolin trio with her sisters in the late 1920's/early 1930's. It hasn't been played since then. I am a violin teacher who has recently taken up the mandolin (playing Eastman), and would love to get this old instrument into working order. No visible cracks, but when I set a ruler along the fretboard there is a bit of a dip in the middle (1mm approx). I have no idea what's involved in getting this fixed. I attach photos. New to Mandolin Cafe, hope I have put this in the right place and given enough information.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    The dip in the top may be caused by a loose or missing brace, and if that is the cause, then it is not a major repair to someone with the necessary skills. I am assuming the mandolin is not tuned to pitch. If this is done, more may be revealed- as the tension will highlight any other problems and you will also discover the functionality of the tuners, which may be stiff with age. As bowl back mandolins are more sensitive and fragile than flat backs, any attempt at tuning should be done with care- I would tune up one string of each course first and then start again across the courses with the second strings and finally the two third strings and perhaps, stay a tone down from concert pitch to begin with- only going up to this when you are happy that the mandolin is not showing visible signs of distress. You will want to take care when tuning up just in case strings choose to break- I tend to shut my eyes when I do this although using safety glasses makes more sense. You should post photos of the bowl and the neck joint area and the back of the headstock. It is an attractive instrument. The address inside appears to show London EC- although the strings obscure the label. In 1917, the post office added a numbered suffix to these London codes and although labels might be used for many years, it suggests the instrument is early 20th century- possibly as late as the 1920s, if it is just an EC address.

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Thank you so much for replying Nick. I have to confess I tuned it right up to pitch, the tuners all work ok and none of the ancient strings broke. Then I started to worry about it and have now got it all down a semitone. It didn't seem to make sense to put new strings on when they all need to come off again to get it fixed. Maybe I should tune it down another semitone. The label does indeed say London EC. I took more photos, hope these are what you had in mind!
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  5. #4

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    If you get it up to pitch with no trauma then that's a good sign. The photo of the neck suggests all is well there ( there may be aa slight bow) and the bowl looks good from what I can see. The engraved plates on the tuners are attractive and as you mention, the strings will be coming off at some point and the tuners working well is also a good omen. The number of ribs/staves in the bowl suggest that the instrument was not that expensive when new but it looks very attractive. Make sure when you restring it you use super light strings- I use GHS ULTRA LIGHT- 9-32 which I buy from Strings & Beyond mail order from the USA. You can get two sets for $26.65 which includes shipping. The company does offer free shipping every now and again but has not done so since February. The two sets of strings cost $12.98 so there is no duty and VAT to mess things up. I have not been able to get these strings in the UK.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    You probably have already seen this discussion of a more ornate mandolin from the same maker. The general view being that most, possibly all of the maker's output was exported to the UK. https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...erini-Mandolin

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    That all sounds promising - thanks again Nick for your advice. I will certainly try the strings you recommend - haven't heard of them before. They certainly aren't expensive - I have been using the Thomastik Prazision ones on my modern mandolin, which do cost more (though not as much as decent violin strings). I had wondered about getting the light version of the Thomastick, but didn't know there was such a thing as super light strings.

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    will have a read at that, cheers

  9. #8

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Personally, as your mandolin is in the process of reanimation, and it needs two sets of strings, for a restring, not forking out too much on strings at this stage is sensible and going to the lightest gauge is being better safe than sorry. You may find, down the line, you can keep two of the old strings when you restring it and take advantage of the partially used set. You may also find that the bowl back is not quite so player friendly as your Eastman ( is that bowl or flat back?), and once it is in playing condition, is an instrument that you play every now and again. I can safely say that my great grandfather's bowl backs get played every now and again but this only reminds me why I invested in a brand new flat back fairly swiftly in my early days! There are those that prefer a bowl back and that's fine, they are made of sterner stuff than me!

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    The OP says the dip is in the fretboard. A 1 mm dip in the fretboard is just a bit of relief and isn't a problem.

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    My Eastman is the flatback MD504 which I love playing and was well set up by Eagle Music. The idea of an older Italian bowl back is delightful and there is the sentimental attachment of it being my Grandmother's instrument, but I will wait and see how it plays!

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Thanks for your reply Nevin, that sounds positive, though I have to admit I don't know what 'OP' means!

  14. #12

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    You are the OP!

    On another matter, somehow when I read your "Original Post" I thought the dip was in the top- which is why I mentioned bracing. Then I saw your photo of the neck and saw what appeared to be a slight bow but as was also mentioned above, this is not an issue if the mandolin plays up the neck. The fact that the top is not sinking which I erroneously thought was your concern, is good news, and I would think you can restring the mandolin and see how it feels to you. I had assumed your Eastman was a flat back but the company does make bowl backs as well.

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Belinda - you don’t need to order strings from the US (the only reason to do this would be if they were cheaper - don’t forget shipping, taxes and duties). You’ll probably find something suitably light in the UK. In fact, you already know one place - Eagle Music - they will even supply custom gauged sets which are made by Newtone. Newtone themselves will also put together sets for you and, the last time I checked, they were cheaper

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Thanks again Nick, you can tell I am new to this! I have been recommended someone in Belfast who is going to take a look at it - he's mainly a guitar repair person so will look at the frets (which have grooves worn into them by the strings, mainly A and E). He said that mandolin body work wouldn't be his thing, so that's a good sign when someone is clear about their area of expertise. He replaced the nut on a friend's Mandola and did a good job.

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Thanks Ray for that - I haven't heard of Newtone brand. I'm still fairly new to the mandolin, after 50 years playing the violin! Will check it out.

  18. #16

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Newtone does do a superlight set of mandolin strings. I buy a lot of strings and found that Strings & Beyond gave me the best possible value for what I wanted when the postage was free- and even when I pay shipping it is still good value. As I wrote earlier, this has all been mucked up since the Covid-19 era dawned. I tend to use super light strings- not just on delicate old instruments as I like to be able to bend the strings when I play. That's my style and others may think it odd but I tend to bend up a tone on the G, D and A courses. It looks as though your mandolin may only need minimal attention and no repairs. It is possible that a few tweaks will be good enough. Most old instruments are sub-optimal in a few respects. My current No 1 mandolin has a bit of a curve near the nut so the action is higher than I would like but my luthier is unwell and so I have to live with this deficiency- the mandolin plays okay but it would be great to lower the action a tiny bit. From memory, it came from Sligo via eBay, a long way from its birthplace in Chicago!

    I imagine that this mandolin has a scale length of 13 inches which is I believe the same as the violin. Your Eastman is nearly 14 inches. I tend not to play my 13 inch scale mandolins because when I go back to one that is nearly 14 inches, I have problems for a while. The 13 inch scale makes the mandolin a little easier to play- all other things being equal- which they never are!

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    You're right about the string lengths Nick. The Eastman is indeed 14" - I have to work hard with the 4th finger, as my violin string length is only 12 3/4". The bowl back is 13 1/4" so that's closer to the violin. It will be interesting to play lighter strings as I have only used medium on the Eastman.
    I love the idea of your mandolin starting in Chicago and coming to you from Sligo via eBay - there's a story in that!

  20. #18

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    I use my fourth finger- my mandolin tutor book told me to use it- and I do. However, you will see most players rarely use it except for chords. I tend not to use open strings as I did not want to be anchored to the first position. However, I think it is fair to say that rigid rules do not really apply and one should feel free to experiment.
    The mandolin from Sligo was an object lesson in how not to sell something on eBay. The mandolin has a transducer in the bridge and the jack plug had been taped to the body leaving mess everywhere. It did not take me long to clean up- the seller should have done this. The instrument had lost all its original parts and I was the only bidder- getting it for the opening bid. I have spent time getting original 1950s tuners, tailpiece and pickguard but although I have an original bridge was well, it raises the action too high. Anyway, when I got it, I took it to our bluegrass pick- now lost in lockdown and our leader said: "I've only seen one of those- in George Gruhn's shop in Nashville, for an almighty price." Anyway, I did get it for a very good price. Although made by Kay, it was their top mandolin and was for sale for a few dollars less than a Gibson A40 in the early 1950s. It has a great tone and volume- not quite as good as my Gibson A2 from 1923- but that is an oval hole mandolin and they are generally louder.

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Oh, it looks great - what a lot of knowledge and effort you were able to put into it to bring it back to such fine condition.
    I have been having lessons recently, as those count as education/work rather than social, so are permitted (what ridiculous things we find ourselves saying!). What I am finding is that the 4th finger is less often used in mandolin than in classical violin playing, where players often make a point of avoiding the open strings - specially the E because it's too bright and has no vibrato. So, without giving up on the 4th finger, I am trying to get a mandolin mindset about it.

  22. #20

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    I think that using all four fingers may have slowed me down in some respects but it does mean I am not relying on the open strings or being tied to one position. I think your playing style evolves over time anyway. As I mentioned I do bend the strings a lot and that means eliminating the fourth finger at times- or even the third finger. Some types of music seem to use more open strings than others and so in many respects I find my playing style very different to most mandolin players as I use a lot of two course chords as well as single note runs.

    It was this man's book I bought- this album was released a year after his book was published: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDRhJ8ALnq0

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Thanks for that Nick, I know nothing about bluegrass so I enjoyed listening to it.

  24. #22

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    If you buy Jack's book he tells you a bit more- a lot more, history and important mandolin players in the genre. Today, most people just use YT videos not books. The book was pretty advanced at the time, as it had a thin record which featured some of the tunes he had in the book. This is one of them- I never even tried to learn it- somewhat akin to somebody who could swim a length in a pool then going on to swim the English Channel! It uses the technique called "cross picking" which Jesse McReynolds pioneered.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqQDx2WJ1zE

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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Belinda Larmour View Post
    Thanks Ray for that - I haven't heard of Newtone brand. I'm still fairly new to the mandolin, after 50 years playing the violin! Will check it out.
    Eagle’s custom gauge sets - https://www.eaglemusicshop.com/prod/...string-set.htm - are now called “Puretone”; they used to be made up from individual “Newtone” strings but I can’t guarrantee that this is still the case; you might like to ask them.

    Newtone already has a standard set which will probably suit you - https://newtonestrings.com/shop/mandolin-strings/ - and are less likely to be phased by you asking for an extra A and E with each set. They even make sets for harp guitar and sitar so a 10 string mandolin should be simple - and they only charge 1.20 for postage!

  26. #24
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    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Brilliant - a serious brain-twister!

  27. #25

    Default Re: Ceccherini 10 string mandolin in Belfast, advice needed

    Yes, I'll go so far to play back up guitar with that piece and leave real experts to play the mandolin! John Jorgenson is a great cross picker. He's a serious clarinet and piano player and is amazing on guitar, mandolin, bass and probably a few more string instruments. He's also a really great guy as well. The audio on this is not great but Chris Hillman compliments John and mentions he is the greatest all round musician he has played with over the years.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_zLmrrLwXk

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